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A word for the wise…

Aug 19, 2016, 10:01 AM

The importance of breastfeeding has been reechoed by the health department through its health promotion and education unit director.

At a recent meeting at the National Nutrition Agency, in commemoration of World Breastfeeding Week, the country’s health promotion director said: “Children have to be exclusively breastfed throughout the first six months of life. They ought to be given appropriate solid or semisolid complementary foods in addition to continued breastfeeding, from age 6 months to at least 24 months, as recommended by UNICEF and WHO.”

It is important that nursing parents, especially lactating mothers, pay heed to this advice to prevent the ramifications of not breastfeeding our babies adequately.

Well researched facts have proven that children who are breastfed have a 2.6 point higher intelligence quotient than non-breastfed children. This is because breast milk is a natural, renewable food. It is also environmentally safe as it is pure and free from pollution.

Furthermore, it is on record that about  823,000 children die annually due to sub-optimal infant feeding practices; whilst  additionally, 20,000 deaths occur due to breast cancer that could be “averted if mothers adopt optimal breastfeeding”.

Not breastfeeding is also said to be associated with economic losses of about $302 billion annually or 0.49 per cent of world gross national income.

These are enough pointers that should speak to the conscience of mothers that breastfeeding is the natural route to bringing up a baby healthier and to become highly intelligent.

According to our health department, Gambian women are faced with many obstacles to breastfeeding, which include long working hours, psychosocial pressure, inadequate lactation support from male partners at home, inadequate access to skilled breastfeeding counseling, and aggressive marketing of breast milk substitutes.

However, all efforts should be made by parents to adhere to strict breastfeeding in the upbringing if infants in the first six months of life.

It is all to our own good and benefit. So let’s pay heed to the advice by our health department, as a word for the wise is quite sufficient.

“While breastfeeding may not seem the right choice for every parent, it is the best choice for every baby .”

Amy Spangler